For years, tech companies like Google and Softcard (formerly known as ISIS) begged with consumers to adopt its NFC-powered payment platform, and for the most part, their pleas went largely unheard. Now that Apple Pay has graced millions of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users with NFC purchasing powers (across the US, at least), things are beginning to change. And really, everyone is a winner.
A report by The New York Times details how American consumer practices are slowly changing due to Apple Pay. Whole Foods recorded 150,000 iPhone transactions, Walgreens says NFC payments have doubled since Apple Pay debuted in October (thanks in no part to CurrentC), and McDonald's says Apple's payment service already accounts for 50 per cent of its tap-to-pay total. Considering the service has only available three weeks on two iPhones compared to the big swath of Android phones, that's pretty impressive, but as one analyst says, it's a slow-moving revolution:
"Quite frankly, a lot of it has to do with the strength of the Apple brand and how much merchants and customers love how easy the experience is...I'm not saying it's changing the landscape overnight. But this has never happened with other mobile wallets."
But Apple Pay isn't the only winner here. Softcard and Google Wallet, tap-to-pay alternatives for Android (and recently Windows Phone) are also seeing spikes in downloads and user engagement, according to The New York Times. This also has exciting possibilities for all of us, as rumours of Apple's plan to extend its NFC offerings will further empower all our mobiles. In Australia, NFC mobile payments are growing — we've seen tap-to-pay options released by Optus, CommBank, CUA and plenty of others — and we'll reflect the changes made across the Pacific.
In some ways, this is to be expected. If a significant portion of the smartphone population, at least in the US, doesn't have access to NFC payments, it's hard to make the argument to retailers to invest in the tech. With that worry now dissipating with each passing purchase of an iPhone 6 or newer Apple smartphone, companies are now more likely to take the plunge.
It's also possible we could see a similar adoption explosion when Apple finally releases the Apple Watch in the spring. In fact, I'm almost certain this will be the case. After wearing ASUS's ZenWatch around New York the last couple of days, people keep asking me if it's an Apple Watch. But whether it happens on smartwatches or mobile payments, interest is already growing — and that's a good thing for all of us. [The New York Times]